Alaska Airlines is rolling out its new Luly Yang custom-designed uniform collection certified to STANDARD 100 by OEKO-TEX, the highest industry standard for safety, making Alaska and Horizon Air the first U.S. airlines to achieve this certification.
“This is a major milestone that was years in the making. Before the designs, before the first stitch, before the first button sewn, we took steps to ensure that employee uniforms were safe and of the best quality,” said Sangita Woerner, Alaska Airlines’ senior vice president of marketing and guest experience. “It was important to take our time and to collaborate with our union partners to create a uniform that was safe, stylish, high quality and functional for all aspects of our business.”
STANDARD 100 by OEKO-TEX ensures that garments meet or exceed global safety standards with regards to harmful substances. The finished garment and each of its components are certified, down to the material, thread and dyes.
Since the collection first debuted in 2018, the design has been refined and adjusted with input from more than 175 employees who put the uniform through the paces with on-the-job wear tests. The new uniforms are being rolled out to employees through early 2020, with Horizon Air and Alaska Lounge concierges already donning the new uniforms.
Alaska started the process almost four years ago by surveying thousands of uniformed employees and followed up with focus groups and work-site visits to understand the features different workgroups wanted to see in their new uniforms. Overwhelmingly, the top requests from employees were more pockets and designs that look great on all body shapes and sizes, and were suited for a wide range of climates.
Additionally, more than 1,200 safety tests were conducted on the uniforms for over 165 unique color combinations. In total, Alaska’s custom uniforms incorporate more than 100,000 zippers, 1 million buttons, 500,000 yards of fabric and use well over 30 million yards of thread.
Using this employee research, Yang spent two years designing and creating a signature silhouette for the Alaska collection. Her focus on fit and function enabled additional touches including water-resistant materials, active wear fabrics, longer shirt tails that don’t untuck from skirts and trousers, and flexible textiles that move with the body.
“The STANDARD 100 by OEKO-TEX certification is a first for our uniforms,” Jeff Peterson, Alaska Airlines Master Executive Council president of the Association of Flight Attendants. “The association is very pleased that our partnership with management has resulted in a high standard of safety that will help flight attendants feel confident in wearing their uniform.”
In order to achieve this standard, Alaska worked in partnership with Unisync Group Limited of Toronto, one of the largest uniform suppliers in North America. Together, Alaska, Yang and Unisync produced custom fabrics, buttons and signature accessories for the new program, ensuring the garments provide optimal on-the-job performance and earned the STANDARD 100 by OEKO-TEX® certification.
“Alaska Airlines created a strong partnership with us from the beginning – that’s the biggest reason for their success in earning the STANDARD 100 by OEKO-TEX label,” said Ben Mead, OEKO-TEX representative. “Achieving certification is incredibly challenging, and their commitment to leading with safety has been unwavering.”